Meet Smokii Sumac

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Image shows man in a ball cap and sunglasses with a teepee and a building behind him.

“I’ve learned from my students that people are willing and ready to meet the challenges that Truth and Reconciliation calls for.”

Smokii, a member of the Ktunaxa Nation, joined the College of the Rockies’ faculty in 2019, and is currently a PhD candidate in Indigenous Studies. Previously he earned both bachelor’s (honours) and master’s degrees in English, with a focus on Indigenous Literature.

As an instructor at the College, Smokii’s goal has been to make an impact on his students that goes beyond textbook knowledge.

“I love supporting students in learning how to be more responsible and engaged in their relationships,” he said.

Engagement is a key feature of his teaching style, so instructing online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic creates unique challenges. To help connect with his students, Smokii is exploring new ways of using technology, creating short “insta” style videos that he shares with students through the online learning platform.

Outside of the classroom, Smokii is a well-respected poet who has performed at a variety of festivals across Canada. His debut poetry collection entitled you are enough: love poems for the end of the world received the 2018 Indigenous Voices Award and he was one of three finalists for the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ emerging writers. When not writing or performing, you can find Smokii spending time with his friends and family, and his little niblings (gender-neutral term for nieces and nephews).

Currently living in Kimberley, BC, Smokii hopes to engage with his community in addition to his students.

“If you’re in Kimberley and see me and my dog, Kootenay Lou, out on the trails, please say hi,” he said.

His words of advice to students as they take part in a unique semester of learning is simple:

“This is only one part of the journey.”